Burning the midnight oil is bad for your health 27



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We know here at Starts at 60 that many of our readers burn the midnight oil, if the timing of some of your commentary is anything to go by. However, based on a new study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, being a night owl could have adverse impacts to your health. Would you change your night owl behaviour for your health?

Yes it seems that those among us who prefer to be active in after dark are at a greater risk of diabetes, weight gain and other health related issues.

Based on surveys conducted by the Korea University College of Medicine, people who displayed evening chronotypes were 2 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (symptoms that can lead to diabetes and heart disease), and more than 3 times as likely to develop a condition called sarcopenia, which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, often with the replacement of muscle fibres by fat and an increase in fibrosis.

Curiously, it seems that the issues are not linked to the quantity of hours slept but more to do with the night owls being more likely to partake in late evening snacks, a smoke or have a poorer quality of sleep than their early bird counterparts.

The survey also found an interesting distinction between the risks posed to males and those to females. It seems that females are more likely to have a higher percentage of belly fat and risk of metabolic syndromes whereas males are more likely to develop diabetes and sarcopenia.

One of the more fascinating submissions from the study suggests that we might not have a choice when it comes to our sleep preferences. Our genes are known to influence our chronotypes, therefore our predisposition to sleep times could have been passed on from your parents.

Do you burn the midnight oil? Did your parents? Would you change your behaviours if you knew it was better for your long-term health and wellbeing?






Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Like many older Aussie’s it depends with me, I normally go to bed early and get up early , But if I am in pain and having a bad night..I am up and down all night, sometimes I just get up and stay up.

  2. After recently stopping night shift, after an eight year stint I have lost weight, no longer need blood pressure meds and no longer have stress incontinence. I also feel human again ☺

  3. For people that are not working going to bed late is not that important so this study should be more specific about the population they were studying.

  4. Go to bed sometime after midnight and still have trouble drifting off. Have 7-8 hours sleep. Have tried going earlier but just lay there waiting to drop off for longer.

  5. I still need at least 8+ hours but partner less – he spends heaps of time on a screen. I believe, but can’t prove, that I am healthier! In my 50s I began using a CPAP machine and this has greatly improved my quality of sleep – hardly ever wake during night ☺

    1 REPLY
    • A what machine? More information please.

  6. Try to be lying in bed with my book at 11 pm…lights out when I have dozed off..after that, in the lap of the insomnia gods.

  7. Midnight wake frequently mostly up 1-30 am do sudoku and puzzles till 2-30 or 3 am. Up be 4 9 am .

  8. I’m sure I was nocturnal in my previous life.

  9. What is a CPAP machine?

    2 REPLY
    • Cant remember what the letters stand for its constant air flow at a controlled rate. Brian started using it years ago I noticed he was stopping breathing every so often only for split seconds, he had a sleep study that showed he had sleep apnea, he used it every night for about 14 years

      1 REPLY
      • CPAP is continuous positive airway pressure. Keeps the airways open.

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